East Hampshire District Council has unveiled a surprise proposal to buy land and create a community farm.

The council says it may have to rent land or a farm to begin with, but says its goal is to own land for livestock, crops, allotments, orchard, community garden, rewilding area, flower farm and camping area.

Under the Grow Up! tag the farm will offer opportunities, ranging from wellbeing to work experience and from mechanical engineering to mental health, says council leader Richard Millard.

He added: “The community farm project may start small, but my vision is it will grow year on year, yielding ever more benefits to our residents and communities.

“It will offer training, apprenticeships, career opportunities for people in the farming industry, and it will deliver local jobs, revive rural skills and provide advice, learning and development for young people and businesses.

“Alongside traditional skills new technologies will be used to deliver carbon-neutral farming techniques, sustainable food production and make use of new digital and virtual platforms.

“And, crucially, it will help develop a renewed sense of place in residents, forge new bonds between communities and the countryside and cultivate an understanding of the district’s rural roots.”

To help fund the project the council is preparing an investment proposal for £1m from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, run by Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

The funding would be phased over three years, and would see the farm deliver more services and opportunities on a year-by-year basis.

Local experts, businesses and communities are encouraged to come forward and play their part in the council-led project.

The proposal has yet to be formally agreed by councillors.

To find out more email the council at [email protected]